The radio world was rocked Thursday when word started to travel around that former Bonneville and Hubbard Radio leader Bruce Reese died after battling a long illness.
Reese joined Bonneville as general counsel in 1984 and served as its president from 1996 to 2010. He then served as president and CEO of Hubbard Radio until 2014, when he became an advisor to the company.
Radio Ink Publisher Deborah Parenti said, “Bruce Reese epitomized class and professionalism throughout his long and successful career in radio. His leadership, at Bonneville and Hubbard, as well as his commitment to organizations that support the industry, is just one reason why Radio Ink honored him with the Lifetime Leadership Award in 2017. He was a giant who will be fondly remembered and missed.”
From our 2017 profile on Bruce, he said there were a number of happy accidents that got him working for Bonneville. “It was not something I had planned on doing, being in the radio business, but it was something that, as I look back, was wonderful and perfect. I still remember an old tube radio that I had in the headboard of my bed as a kid, thumbing around at night trying to find rock ’n’ roll to listen to from Chicago, New York, and Boston, the big clear channel stations. I loved music and listening to the radio. Maybe it was something that was meant to be.”
Back in 2011, Hubbard Broadcasting purchased 17 Bonneville Radio stations in Washington, DC, Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. Reese stayed on with Hubbard as CEO until 2014. Hubbard Chair Ginny Morris: “Bruce was the ‘broadcasters, broadcaster’ and one of the finest people I have ever known. We will forever lean on what Bruce taught us all about this business, leadership, and how to leave the world a better place through how we live our lives.”
Drew Horowitz worked with Reese for over 20 years. “I don’t know what to say. Bruce was a class act. He was the gold standard. He was an extraordinary human being. He was a brilliant man. He loved being in radio, had a phenomenal passion for it. He was a tremendous asset to the broadcast industry.”
When Bonneville owned WTOP in Washington, DC, Joel Oxley worked for Reese: “I find myself overcome with sadness. I was extremely fortunate to know him. He was not only a pioneer in our business, but also a wonderful grandfather, father, husband, and son. I was lucky enough to work with him and get to meet his family. Bruce was an extremely smart, passionate person. WTOP wouldn’t be where it is without Bruce Reese. He was our CEO for nearly 20 years. He had the foresight to invest in our websites in a big way when others weren’t. And probably most impactful, he supported WTOP going to FM back in 2006, which was a move that was way ahead of its time. His family is in all of our thoughts and prayers. Bruce will be so missed.”
Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan: “I’m just heartsick. He was one of the finest people I’ve ever known. He was a great broadcaster a great husband, father, and grandfather, but most of all he was a great person. This industry will miss his leadership more than people understand.”
RAB CEO Erica Farber: “Broadcasting, and especially radio, lost one of radio’s very best. Bruce was a genuine friend, colleague, and broadcaster who personified broadcasting at its finest; always focused on the best interests of the public. A gentle giant he led by example and showed us how to be a successful leader while demonstrating kindness to everyone. We will all miss Bruce, especially at the RAB where he was an active board member for many years. We send our thoughts to his family and thank them for sharing him with his many broadcast colleagues.”
In a statement, NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said, “NAB and the entire broadcast industry is saddened to hear of the passing of our friend and former Bonneville President Bruce Reese. Bruce’s accomplishments in broadcasting — former NAB Joint Board Chair, former National Radio Award Winner, and chair of the NAB Education Foundation — were surpassed only by his commitment to charity and community service. Broadcasting is a better business and the world was a better place because of my friend Bruce Reese.”
Bruce is survived by his wife Lu Ann, their seven children, four daughters-in-law, two sons-in law, and 12 grandchildren.
All of us at Radio Ink send our condolences to Bruce’s family, friends, and colleagues. Read our 2017 profile on Bruce Reese when he was honored with our Lifetime Achievement Award HERE.